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The Department of Occupational Therapy hosted the 4th Annual Pitt OT Colloquium as a virtual event on April 27, 2021 to discuss current issues and the newest OT research, education and theory to create the best OT practice for the future. The Virtual Pitt OT Colloquium opened with a welcome address from Professor and Chair, Elizabeth Skidmore, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, FACRM and recognition of the Pitt OT Award of Appreciation, Alumni Award of Excellence and Award of Excellence in Clinical/Community Education recipients. Dr. Leanne Yinusa-Nyahkoon, ScD, OTR/L delivered the keynote presentation "Return of the JEDI: The Force of a New Generation" which was followed by a panel discussion, "Putting the Keynote into Practice." The event concluded with a poster session to feature capstone projects from our Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) graduates.

Thank you to all of our 2020 Level I and II and 2021 Level II fieldwork educators and capstone sites for supporting Pitt OT students in fieldwork and doctoral capstone experiences during extraordinary pandemic circumstances.


Welcome Address from the Chair and Awards Recognition Ceremony

Elizabeth R. Skidmore PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, FACRM

The following awardees were recognized at the 2021 Pitt OT Colloquium:

Award of Appreciation
Rollin M. Wright, MD, MS, MPH
For supporting Pitt OT to enhance health and quality of life of older adults through education, research and service.

Award of Appreciation
Margaret Summerville, OTR/L
For supporting Pitt OT students through fieldwork education and service during extraordinary pandemic circumstances.

Award of Appreciation
UPMC Centers for Rehab Services
For supporting Pitt OT students through fieldwork education and service during extraordinary pandemic circumstances.

Award of Appreciation
Capable Kids, LLC
For supporting Pitt OT students through fieldwork education and service during extraordinary pandemic circumstances.

Clinical/Community Educator Award
Dana Schubring, OTR/L
For demonstrating dedication to high quality education of occupational therapy students in Level I fieldwork.

Clinical/Community Educator Award
Brian Convery, OTR/L
For exhibiting superior skills and abilities in practice, management and professionalism in Level II fieldwork.

Alumni Award of Excellence
Reena Mathew McCormick, MOT, OTR/L
For advancing occupational therapy by transforming leadership to serve others.

Keynote Presentation

Leanne Yinusa-Nyahkoon, ScD, OTR/L
Dr. Yinusa-Nyahkoon is an occupational therapist with over 20 years of experience working with children with chronic health conditions and their families, the majority of whom are from urban communities of color. Dr. Yinusa-Nyahkoon’s research examines health inequities that plague minoritized communities and the clients’, families’, providers’ and communities' perspectives of the social circumstances, environmental factors and individual characteristics that impact health behavior. Dr. Yinusa-Nyahkoon is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at Boston University Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, and holds appointments in the Departments of Family Medicine and Obstetrics and Gynecology in the Boston University School of Medicine. Dr. Yinusa-Nyahkoon received her Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy, Master of Science in Occupational Therapy and Doctor of Science in Therapeutic Studies from Boston University.

Return of the JEDI: The Force of a New Generation
This talk revisited old terms that have recently inspired social justice movements and seem to have acquired new meaning: justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. Although these terms have been discussed for decades, a reflection on what just is reveals long standing social inequities and health disparities between populations with privilege and power and minoritized communities. One might then wonder what the outcomes would be if we reflected on these terms with a new lens. Perhaps we would all be forced to do something differently.

Panel Discussion

Putting the Keynote into Practice
Panelists discussed the keynote address and applications to practice.

Kristy Trautmann (Moderator) - Executive Director, FISA Foundation

Kristy Trautmann is executive director of FISA Foundation, a charitable grantmaking foundation with a mission to build a culture of respect and improve the lives of women, girls, and people with disabilities in southwestern Pennsylvania. FISA’s disability-focused grantmaking focuses on improving health and well-being, promoting social inclusion, fostering equity in education, promoting community-based employment, and addressing abuse. In addition to overseeing a diverse portfolio of grants, under Ms. Trautmann’s leadership FISA has undertaken regional initiatives to address the intersections of race and disability, improve access to health care for people with disabilities, promote accessibility among arts and cultural organizations, end cycles of domestic and sexual violence, and address systematic inequities facing girls of color. Ms. Trautmann has worked with FISA Foundation since 2004 and served as its leader since 2010. Prior to FISA, Ms. Trautmann worked at Pittsburgh Action Against Rape and the YWCA Greater Pittsburgh. She earned a Master of Science in Nonprofit Management from Robert Morris University and a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of Pittsburgh.

Chaz Kellem (Panelist) - Director, Office of PittServes

Chaz Kellem was appointed Director of PittServes in 2018. The Office of PittServes provides University of Pittsburgh students the opportunity to engage in ethical and sustainable service to the community on a local, national and international scale. Prior to joining Student Affairs, Chaz was the Senior Director of Advocacy for Race & Gender Equity at YWCA Greater Pittsburgh. In this capacity he was responsible to develop and lead all advocacy efforts for the agency and provide educational opportunities that influence systemic change. Chaz began his career at the Pittsburgh Pirates in which he spent 10 seasons. Chaz spent three seasons within the area of Tickets Sales and Marketing and later moved into the Community & Public Affairs department as the Manager of Diversity Initiatives. In this capacity, he was responsible for managing the organization’s interaction with various minority constituencies. Chaz earned his Master of Science Degree in Organizational Leadership from Robert Morris University and his Bachelor of Science in Health and Physical Education from Edinboro University. He is active and committed to the community, as he serves on several non-profit boards including ACHIEVA, Best Buddies PA, and Miracle League of Moon. He is also an Assistant Coach for the Pittsburgh Steelwheelers, which is a competitive wheelchair basketball team.

Jamie Upshaw (Panelist) - Founder and Executive Director, Autism Urban Connections, Inc.

Jamie Upshaw is Founder and Executive Director of a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization called Autism Urban Connections, Inc. Ms. Upshaw formed Autism Urban Connections, Inc. as a support group that began in 2015 after her son received a fairly late diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder and the lack of support and services in our African American communities. The growing organization has now evolved as the number of families that received services continued to grow, thus Autism Urban Connections, Inc. was born with a mission is to provide education, support, advocacy, and empowerment with an emphasis on self-care to parents/caregivers of those diagnosed with Autism, with priority placed on the African American, minority, and economically disadvantaged members of the community. As an advocate for the Autism community and more, Jamie is currently a full-time graduate student at Arizona State University for a master’s degree in special education with an emphasis on Applied Behavior Analysis. A former PEAL Center Board Member, Jamie, is a Certified Parent Ambassador under the Office of Child Development at the University of Pittsburgh and served as Chair of Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center (COTRAIC) Policy Council for two years and Vice-Chair for one year. Ms. Upshaw is a Pittsburgh Native, 44-year-old, proud mother of 3 who possesses an extensive background in human and community service, including a master’s degree in criminal justice administration and a bachelor’s degree in legal studies from Point Park University.

Michelle Walker (Panelist) - Founder, Lend An Ear Consulting

Michelle Walker is a sought-after speaker, consultant, trainer, and founder of Lend An Ear Consulting, an agency based in the Greater Pittsburgh area. She is an avid advocate of people with disabilities, who dismantles barriers of communication and awareness through Disability Inclusion and Accessibility speaking, interactive training, and comprehensive workshops. She educates as an analyst who coaches clients, whether corporate, collegiate, or private, with the critical stages of development, implementation, and offers short and long-term solutions for best practices. She is Deaf/Hard of Hearing, and is a proud supporter of Deaf Awareness, Autism Awareness, and Special Education. She volunteers her time, and is honored to serve as an executive board member of these organizations throughout the Greater Pittsburgh region; Autism Connection of PA, and Autism Urban Connections Inc, and The Greenwood Plan. Michelle is a proud alum of the 2020-21 cohort of Coro Pittsburgh’s Women in Leadership program.

Leanne Yinusa-Nyahkoon (Keynote Presenter) - Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, Boston University Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Dr. Yinusa-Nyahkoon is an occupational therapist with over 20 years of experience working with children with chronic health conditions and their families, the majority of whom are from urban communities of color. Dr. Yinusa-Nyahkoon’s research examines health inequities that plague minoritized communities and the clients’, families’, providers’ and communities' perspectives of the social circumstances, environmental factors and individual characteristics that impact health behavior. Dr. Yinusa-Nyahkoon is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at Boston University Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, and holds appointments in the Departments of Family Medicine and Obstetrics and Gynecology in the Boston University School of Medicine. Dr. Yinusa-Nyahkoon received her Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy, Master of Science in Occupational Therapy and Doctor of Science in Therapeutic Studies from Boston University.

Poster Session

The virtual poster session focused on bringing the concept of the poster presentation beyond the four walls of a conference hall. This virtual poster session served as a platform to showcase the culmination of our Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) students’ doctoral capstone experience, relating theory to practice and demonstrating synthesis of advanced knowledge. Attendees of the poster session had the opportunity to explore the range of topic areas presented by our OTD students.

Promoting Readiness for Oral Feeding in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit 

Click here to view poster.

OTD Peer Network: Stephanie Caggiano, Emily Dempsey, Dani Hall, Tessa Marthaler and Melissa Toth

Faculty Mentor: Angela Caldwell, PhD, OTR/L, CLT

Capstone Site: UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Concentration/Focus Area: Children and Youth/Feeding, Eating and Swallowing

Abstract: Readiness to feed orally is often the last NICU discharge requirement to be met by preterm infants. Through online modules, we educated nursing staff on various oral motor and sensory-based interventions that may be utilized to promote oral feeding readiness and decrease length of stay. Through educational handouts, parents and caregivers were educated regarding oral motor and sensory strategies for carry over to home in order to prevent long term feeding difficulties.

Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, participants will be able to... 

  1. Understand the role of nurses in utilizing various oral-motor and sensory interventions to promote oral feeding readiness in the NICU.
  2. Explain effective strategies to educate and train parents/caregivers on oral-motor and sensory feeding strategies to carry-over to the home setting.

For questions about this poster, contact Tessa Marthaler at tgm15@pitt.edu.

Synced for Success: An Online Training Series to Address Trauma and Sensory-Related Behaviors

Click here to view poster.

OTD Peer Network: Shelby Cartwright, Caroline Drake, Lauren Kenney, Gabriella Mazzeo, Indira Mukerji and Natalie Silverman

Faculty Mentor: Roxanna Bendixen, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA

Capstone Site: Provident Charter School

Concentration/Focus Area: Children and Youth/School Systems

Abstract: This poster will describe the development of Synced for Success, an online training series to help educational staff at Provident Charter School proactively respond to sensory and/or trauma-related behaviors in the classroom. Understanding the principles of this program will allow occupational therapists to train others on the interplay of trauma and sensory-related dysfunction, apply trauma-informed care to their practice, and act as advocates for their clients with related needs.

Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, participants will be able to...

  1. Describe the development and outcomes of educational modules for educational staff at Provident Charter School to address sensory and trauma-related behaviors in the classroom.
  2. Understand the facilitators and barriers of implementation of Synced for Success and discuss areas for future research.

For questions about this poster, contact Indira Mukerji at inm8@pitt.edu.

Making Connections in the New Normal: Implementing Virtual Programming in a Pandemic for Low-income Community-dwelling Older Adults

Click here to view poster.

OTD Peer Network: Giulia Berardi, Katie Massarsky, Julia Kychun and Alaina Wilson

Faculty Mentor: Pamela Toto, PhD, OTR/L, BCG, FAOTA, FGSA

Capstone Site: Beacon Communities at Moorhead Towers

Concentration/Focus Area: Productive Aging/Health and Wellness

Abstract: This poster describes the creation and implementation of an activity program designed to combat the social isolation experienced by low-income, community-dwelling older adults as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This poster will focus on the process as informed by the Consolidated Framework Implementation Research (CFIR) in engaging stakeholders, utilizing virtual and physically distanced mediums, and evidence-based strategies to mitigate the negative effects of social isolation.

Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, participants will be able to...

  1. Identify the social participation needs of low-income community-dwelling older adults and the barriers to meeting those needs during a pandemic.
  2. Describe and utilize effective strategies to improve social participation in activities offered via virtual mediums for community-dwelling older adults.

For questions about this poster, contact Giulia Berardi at gtw7@pitt.edu.

Development of the Pittsburgh Employment Readiness Screen (PERS): A Stages of Change Approach to Address Unemployment in the Homeless Population 

Click here to view poster.

OTD Peer Network: Jason Amado, Katie Grunewald, Emily Krut, Sara Lessem and Elissa Lichtman

Faculty Mentor: Alyson Stover, MOT, JD, OTR/L, BCP

Capstone Site: Allegheny County Department of Human Services

Concentration/Focus Area: Home and Community Health/Work and Industry

Abstract: Community agencies in Allegheny County serving individuals experiencing homelessness do not have an objective tool to assess job readiness. The creation of a screening tool and application of a resource guide based on the Transtheoretical Model of Change (TTM) is a novel approach in moving toward a more client-centered, occupation-based method of service delivery. By incorporating the TTM, providers are better equipped to assist their participants by meeting them where they are.

Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, participants will be able to . . .

  1. Conceptualize the stages within the Transtheoretical Model of Change and apply them to employment readiness.
  2. Understand the rationale behind the development of the Pittsburgh Employment Readiness Screen (PERS).

HandoutsClick here to access handouts provided by the peer network

For questions about this poster, contact Sara Lessem at snl21@pitt.edu.

Developing and Implementing a Virtual, Community-Based Program for Adults Affected by Cancer

Click here to view poster.

OTD Peer Network: Cosette Carter, Ramya Krishna, Cam Nguyen, Leighann Warholak and Lexy Zelczak

Faculty Mentor: Jennifer White CScD, MOT, OTR/L

Capstone Site: Cancer Caring Center

Concentration/Focus Area: Home and Community Health/Chronic Conditions

Abstract: This poster describes the current gaps in cancer care and identifies opportunities for occupational therapy (OT) in the development and implementation of a novel virtual, community-based program. Evidence-based interventions, with a focus on occupation and self-management skills, will be presented.

Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, participants will be able to...

  1. Identify evidence-based strategies to engage individuals affected by cancer in daily occupations and self-management skills.
  2. Apply strategies to develop and implement a novel virtual program in a community setting.

For questions about this poster, contact Leighann Warholak at lew95@pitt.edu.

Development of F.O.R.E.S.T.: A Post-Transition Enrichment Day Program

Click here to view poster.

OTD Peer Network: Nicole Saba Dolcich, Courtney Holzwarth, Hannah Linden, Christian Meeder, Sarah Newborn and Jessica Penatzer

Faculty Mentor: Ann M. Marsico, CScD, MOT, OTR/L

Capstone Site: Woodlands Foundation

Concentration/Focus Area: Home and Community Health/Administration and Management

Abstract: Adults with disabilities face a gap in services when looking to develop advanced skills in independent living and community participation. The new Facilitating Occupational Readiness and Enrichment through Skills Training (F.O.R.E.S.T.) program is being designed with sustainability in mind to support the long-term success of both F.O.R.E.S.T. participants and the program itself. The focus areas of the current project phase are admissions criteria, funding, marketing, and program evaluation.

Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, participants will be able to...

  1. Articulate the importance of sustainable and effective transition and post-transition programming for individuals with disabilities.
  2. Identify key components in the development of a post-transition enrichment program, including: admission criteria, marketing, funding, and program evaluation.

For questions about this poster, contact Nicole Saba Dolcich at nss45@pitt.edu.

Incorporating Sensory-Based Activities in Geropsychiatric Care

Click here to view poster.

OTD Peer Network: Julia Beatty, Desiree Bodziony, Sunny Lin, Emily Pullman and Samantha Whitney

Faculty Mentor: Juleen Rodakowski, OTD, MS, OTR/L, FAOTA

Capstone Site: UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital, Integrated Health and Aging Program

Concentration/Focus Area: Productive Aging/Mental Health

Abstract: Sensory strategies in geropsychiatric care can be beneficial for reducing undesirable behaviors and increasing quality of life. Occupational therapists have a unique scope of knowledge focused on using sensory-based activities to address behaviors and daily care of patients. Using this expertise, occupational therapists can train the layperson in the use of sensory strategies to promote comprehensive use across the interdisciplinary team in the inpatient psychiatric setting and improve patient care.

Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, participants will be able to...

  1. Articulate the value of interdisciplinary knowledge of sensory strategies for the provision of geropsychiatric care.
  2. Gain the skills and knowledge required to implement an educational program to improve staff confidence and competence in the use of sensory strategies for older adults.

For questions about this poster, contact Desiree Bodziony at dlb113@pitt.edu.

Improving Participation Through the Use of Activities in Outpatient Mental Health Group Therapy 

Click here to view poster.

OTD Peer Network: Meredith Buckbee, Claire Colwell, Victoria Merritt, Nicole Rosenbaum and Taylor Wellman

Faculty Mentor: Alyson Stover, MOT, JD, OTR/L, BCP and Kelsey Voltz-Poremba, CScD, MOT, OTR/L

Capstone Site: UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital, Outpatient Rehabilitation Program

Concentration/Focus Area: Mental Health/Health and Wellness

Abstract: This poster will describe an educational program focused on the importance of incorporating activities in outpatient mental health group therapy. The educational program was facilitated through two in-service sessions and the implementation of a resource binder. By enhancing the group therapy at this site through the use of activities, staff are better equipped to engage members in meaningful group therapy and empower their members to use skills outside of group therapy.

Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, participants will be able to...

  1. Identify strategies for staff to facilitate engagement of members in group therapy in outpatient mental health settings.
  2. Identify strategies for designing and implementing educational programming focused on activity-based group therapy for staff working in outpatient mental health settings.

For questions about this poster, contact Meredith Buckbee at msb105@pitt.edu.

The Road to Recovery: Supporting Patients and Caregivers in the Pediatric ICU With Best Practices for Acquired Brain Injury Education 

Click here to view poster.

OTD Peer Network: Alyssa Carson, Joseph Driscoll, Lina Huynh, Lauren Pruyne, Rachel Thomson and Julia Vellky

Faculty Mentor: Joanne Baird PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA

Capstone Site: UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Inpatient Rehabilitation

Concentration/Focus Area: Children and Youth/Health and Wellness

Abstract: This poster presentation will describe evidence-based methods of the delivery and dissemination of caregiver education. Additionally, it will investigate the impact of a suggested protocol for best practices of education materials to achieve staff satisfaction and caregiver confidence. To accommodate for health literacy, the materials are designed to enhance readability. Overall, our aim is to pioneer caregiver education for families affected by brain injuries in the acute phase of care.

Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, participants will be able to...

  1. Identify the tools and knowledge needed to improve caregiver confidence through the implementation of a suggested protocol for the dissemination of caregiver education.
  2. Understand the importance of educating caregivers about the following categories: environmental modifications, cognitive behavioral changes, phases of recovery, what to expect, and discharge planning.

For questions about this poster, contact Julia Vellky at juv14@pitt.edu.

Goal Setting and Discharge Planning for Individuals with Severe Mental Illness in an Inpatient Setting 

Click here to view poster.

OTD Peer Network: Michelle Beck, Bianca Kienzle, Claire Payne, Theresa Tran and Alex Zubyk

Faculty Mentor: Denise Chisholm, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA

Capstone Site: UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital, Transitional Recovery Unit & Comprehensive Recovery Unit

Concentration/Focus Area: Mental Health/Chronic Conditions

Abstract: This poster highlights the development, implementation, and evaluation of a staff education program to address goal setting and discharge planning in an inpatient psychiatric setting. Motivational interviewing and visual aids were integrated to facilitate staff helping patients set specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely (SMART) goals. Resources were developed to facilitate discharge planning by identifying discharge site patient expectations.

Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, participants will be able to...

  1. Discuss how inpatient psychiatric hospital staff can utilize motivational interviewing techniques and visual aids to encourage patients to create SMART goals to improve participation in daily activities.
  2. Recognize how the creation and distribution of educational resource binders can help inpatient psychiatric hospital staff identify patient expectations at discharge locations to better facilitate discharge planning.

For questions about this poster, contact Michelle Beck at mrb165@pitt.edu.

 

​For questions regarding this event, please contact the Department of Occupational Therapy at OTpitt@shrs.pitt.edu.